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Carriers would be able to replace old copper wires with either fiber or wireless

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is allowing carriers like Verizon Communications Inc. and AT&T Inc. to conduct trials for digital phone networks instead of the traditional analog versions. 
According to the FCC, it unanimously voted in favor of trials that test a switch from circuit-switch technology to internet protocol-based networks. But the FCC said it isn't testing the new technology itself -- since it's already in use -- but rather, it will test how consumers react to the switch, how it benefits them, how it performs in important situations, etc. 
This could certainly prove to be advantageous for consumers, especially those in rural areas that often complain about little to no connectivity when it comes to their IP-based services. 
The carriers would definitely benefit, as they'd be able to replace old copper wires with either fiber or wireless. This would mean they wouldn't have to continue investing in both old networks and new networks anymore. 

It's not clear when the trials will begin, but they will be voluntary and cover multiple areas with different topologies, weather conditions and population densities/demographics. 

AT&T is just one U.S. company that has been launching a fiber network around the states. For instance, the carrier released its U-verse all-fiber Internet network with GigaPower in Austin, Texas last month, which will deliver initial speeds of 300 megabits-per-second. According to AT&T, its new service will offer upstream speeds 20 times faster than what’s available today, and it will reportedly allow users to download a full HD movie in under two minutes. 

Google is another tech giant implementing its fiber network around the country. It has already gone live in Kansas, Utah and Texas

Source: FCC

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Most importantly,
By villageidiotintern on 1/31/2014 1:20:39 PM , Rating: 4
they believe they can gain the ability to discontinue service to unprofitable customers, the real goal of all these companies.

RE: Most importantly,
By mdogs444 on 1/31/14, Rating: -1
RE: Most importantly,
By Motoman on 1/31/2014 2:23:48 PM , Rating: 5
That's why phone and electrical lines aren't placed purely in the hands of private companies.

Because it doesn't make good business sense from a boardroom standpoint to bring telephone and electricity to rural citizens.

RE: Most importantly,
By sorry dog on 1/31/2014 4:04:14 PM , Rating: 5
Wait - you expect a for profit company to act like the government is supposed to - in the best interest of the people. Except that the company has no duty or responsibility to do that.

Not true. The company gets a government sponsored monopoly, but in exchange for that they have certain responsibilities that is in the interest of the government. One of those is having to provide service to all customers in that region (within reason), whether it profitable or not. The Telco companies didn't have to take the deal.

But let's be straight, they don't like it as much as they used to because competition from IP tech siphoned off a lot of the more profitable customers... BUT they are still benefiting from being the common carrier. Just take a look at your landline telephone bill and see which tax is the highest.

RE: Most importantly,
By chromal on 1/31/2014 5:08:09 PM , Rating: 4
They are a utility. A business that exists to provide a necessary public service in returned for a fixed profit margin. Thing is, they've betrayed the public trust for over two decades, and have been taking profits instead of reinvesting in the US's telecommunication's future, concentrating on less-regulated wireless services and metered services that are out of step with the post-Internet world in which we live.

RE: Most importantly,
By drycrust3 on 1/31/2014 2:23:22 PM , Rating: 2
Not being an American, I would be very surprised if they haven't been able to do this since Bell invented the telephone.
No, the reason's they want to go digital are more than likely better frequency response (4Khz at present), better dynamic range, better noise immunity, better video feed (none at present), better file transfers (none at present), better text messaging (none on land lines at present), better document transfers (need specialised machine at present), better multiple users per line capability (generally one phone number per line at present, unless you use specialist equipment), better encryption (none at present), etc.

RE: Most importantly,
By hpglow on 1/31/2014 3:23:01 PM , Rating: 3
It has more to do with our antiquated laws here. Telephone providers are by law required to provide service to any household that wants service. Because of the way the law is written wireless and fiber doesn't count. Just the same way railroads are still required to buy coal even though nothing they have still uses it, but because of some stupid regulation they still have to buy it. So they basically buy and resell the coal back as required.

RE: Most importantly,
By lagomorpha on 1/31/2014 2:31:45 PM , Rating: 3
No no no, you've got it all wrong. They want to be allowed to charge low-cost urban customers high rates to subsidize equipment in high-cost per customer rural areas and then they want to charge higher prices in those low population density areas while offering mediocre service.

RE: Most importantly,
By DocScience on 2/3/2014 1:59:25 PM , Rating: 2
So a company should KEEP money-losing customers????

Copper good
By Motoman on 1/31/2014 2:03:42 PM , Rating: 2
In the interest of full disclosure...

We live in a "rural" area...although we're 10 minutes from being downtown in a town of about 20,000, and can be downtown in our state capital in 30 minutes.

Everyone in the house has a cell phone that is virtually the exclusive manner of communications with other least as far as phone service goes. We have a landline...but it's essentially never used.

Don't particularly want to use the landline really...since long distance is free on the cell phones, and since we always have a cell phone in our pockets, there's little point in walking over to where the landline phone is to use it at all.

...unless. Unless there's some kind of emergency. Like, there's a big snowstorm that's blocking cell phone reception, and our power goes out. Need to call the electric company and at least let them know. Or maybe the house catches fire...who knows? But there are times when cellular service just isn't there...and if the power's out, than no manner of IP phone would work either (assuming we had cable or DSL to run VOIP on...which we don't).

You know what always works, no matter what the weather is or if there's electricity or not? A landline phone. With the caveat that, of course, it's possible that something broke the physical phone lines too...but that happens with almost *no* frequency, whereas weather (or cellular congestion during an emergency) can make your cell phone useless on a regular basis, and losing electricity is a lot more likely than losing your phone line.

If the "solution" is running broadband of some kind to all houses, so that they can do VOIP, then I'm all for that...if for no other reason than it would firstly include getting us all broadband in the first place, and if need be I can run my cable modem off of a generator. But if the "solution" is just tossing all the physical connections and declaring that cellular is good enough...well, that's just stupid.

RE: Copper good
By Azuroth on 1/31/2014 3:10:38 PM , Rating: 2
I'd just like to point out that POTS requires power to the central office. If their power goes down, (and their backup/generator runs out of power) your copper lines don't have service either.

I think most phone providers go for 5 sigma reliability on their POTS lines, which means for around 5 minutes a year you wouldn't get a dial tone.

Much more reliable than wireless, but not immune to blanket power outages :)

RE: Copper good
By Motoman on 1/31/2014 3:12:56 PM , Rating: 2
True...although clearly the likelihood that *they* lose power is exponentially smaller than the likelihood that *you* lose power ;)

RE: Copper good
By Lord 666 on 1/31/2014 8:33:30 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, the spec for POTS is DC current supplied by batteries. Another interesting thing about POTS is alarm systems look for variations in current for up/down situations vs dial tone, part of the reason why alarms are not connected to a pbx. So if this digital service goes full effect, some alarms will have to be redone. Even in my own house, the alarm system is fed by a FiOS ONT, but some people have issues with it.

There were quite a few CO's that were knocked out during Sandy. Wireless (specifically VZW) proved to be reliable.

RE: Copper good
By Belegost on 1/31/2014 3:31:39 PM , Rating: 3
The suggestion is that they prove to the FCC that a wireless infrastructure can meet the reliability requirements the FCC mandates. That is the purpose of these tests.

Overall I tend to agree with this direction as it would free up resources from maintaining hundreds of miles of copper line that is slowly becoming unused. And if the FCC does it's job simultaneously wireless reliability should be improved to maintain standards. So, ideally you would find you have better service from the cellular which is what you want to use anyways, and you can drop the landline.

Of course this requires that the FCC actually hold them to the standards, and with a lobbyist like Wheeler as chairman my faith in that happening is effectively none.

Perhaps I'm pessimistic, but I expect this to raise rates and lower quality across the board, with execs throwing parties in their boardrooms at all their extra profits.

RE: Copper good
By ebakke on 1/31/2014 3:56:47 PM , Rating: 2
The other obvious alternative with an IP phone is to have a backup power source. As you said, unless something severed the utility lines (which is rare) you'll still have a connection at your house. You just need something to power your modem/phone. Perhaps a battery backup if you just need to be able to turn it on once every few hours to make a short call. Perhaps you already have a generator and can just plug in your modem and phone.

RE: Copper good
By sorry dog on 1/31/2014 4:15:09 PM , Rating: 2
IP phone boxes with battery backup is widely available to give a few hours of service without power.

With that said, analog pairs are much more resistant to outages since the complexity, support, and fine tuning is way less than DSL or HFC coax connections. It goes a lot further without additional power as well where coax needs amplifiers every so often that run on battery backups if power is lost.

RE: Copper good
By rudolphna on 1/31/2014 8:43:25 PM , Rating: 2
That only works as long as the system you are running it on has power. For example, in a Cable system, there is generally 60-90 minutes worth of battery backup for the Fiber-Coax Nodes, and the amplifies along the way. Once those backups run out of power, the cable system is offline until the company rolls trucks with generators to power the nodes and various equipment along the way. It depends on how long the power is going to be out.

RE: Copper good
By sorry dog on 2/3/2014 10:03:11 AM , Rating: 2
In a properly maintained system, it's more like 8 to 24 hours... depending on number of LE's on a line.

(LE = line extender)

Another reason to keep landlines
By HoosierEngineer5 on 1/31/2014 5:02:57 PM , Rating: 2
I have never known a dedicated telephone to get a virus, or to experience a denial of service attack.

If they can get voice over Internet Protocol to be as reliable as Plain Old Telephone Service, great. We're not there yet.

By kmmatney on 2/1/2014 2:46:55 PM , Rating: 2
I use Ooma VOIP, and my experience so far with it is it is "just about" as reliable as my old landline, and lower prices and benefits far outweigh the negatives. My wife loves the voicemail being emailed to her as an MP3 file, and having 2 lines comes in handy. The community black-list is also nice for blocking spam calls. It will forward all calls to a cell phone if your internet service is down. I really have no complaints at all, and friends who have switched to it have thanked me for recommending it. There are cheaper alternatives than Ooma, but Ooma I think gives you the closest thing to a regular landline experience.

By Solandri on 2/1/2014 4:07:03 PM , Rating: 2
I have never known a dedicated telephone to get a virus, or to experience a denial of service attack.

Denial of service "attacks" were common on landline phones. Back when payphones were commonplace, a moderate earthquake would knock their handsets off the hook (home phones were less vulnerable because their handsets typically were on top of the hook, rather than on the side like a payphone). The result of all these phones simultaneously trying to get a dial tone was that regular callers couldn't get a dial tone (you couldn't reach your phone faster than a payphone could fall off its cradle). You'd get an all circuits are busy signal (fast busy signal). One of the things they taught us after an earthquake was if you see a phone off its hook, put it back on to clear up some lines for emergency use.

I believe one of the early hackers (phreaks, as phone hackers liked to call themselves) figured out some way to get certain phones to do this remotely. And he could trigger a DoS attack on a region by tying up all the phone lines.

By Floorbit on 2/1/2014 5:06:00 AM , Rating: 2
" switch from circuit-switch technology to internet protocol-based networks."
If this is the point of the context . It does not say a whole lot. Just because there is a x mega mega att project in texas does not mean that there is any advantage to the present technology.
Especially in wireless. Judging from this article the wireless is 'already'using Internet protocals. However wireless devices do not comprise devices that have actually been 'internet devices'. The usefulness of the Internet devices in their component,is the Internet. The usefulness of the devices in the respect of 'using Internet Protocal',is the usefulness of the wireless phone. That is any other words,from the perspective,is that because there is a device that uses IP protocal,it is an internet device. However,this is not exactly correct of wireless devices specific to wireless phones,that use the protocal.
The usefulness is to that of the carrier,rather than that of the device itself,to an Internet protocol. The proof of this is evident in details of configuration,and operation,and availability of software. The software contributive to the wireless phone,is most often only relevent to that of the carrier. Big difference since an Internet device,has configuration,beyond that of its proprietor. And instalation should not be to the advantage of the carrier,but to prevalance of the protocal suggested.
That is an Internet Protocal 'with exception(s). Doesn't actually make Internet. Or Internet activity.

In other words,I can't get what I want out of my cell phone . And Internet Protocal device,has a solution for example.

"This week I got an iPhone. This weekend I got four chargers so I can keep it charged everywhere I go and a land line so I can actually make phone calls." -- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
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